The Secret Origin of FOUR COLOR EULOGY

FCE origin

It is always interesting to find out where ideas come from.  I, personally, am always curious to know what compelled a filmmaker to tell “that” story or how did a writer come to “this” character arc?  So, I am going to share with you where the idea of FOUR COLOR EULOGY came from.  It’s “secret origin”, if you will.

legacies end
The cover of LEGACIES END: CELESTIALS AND PALADINS #1 – Art/Inks by Billy Roach, Colors by Jose Segarra

Our story begins a few years ago, in a place not terribly far away.  In 2008, Nicholas J. Hearne, Nathan Contini and I began work on our very first comic book: LEGACIES END.  By 2009 we had released our first issue (I’ll spare you the details of the comic here but if you would like to know more about that head over to www.archlightcomics.com ).  Every year we would make the trip up to Chicago in August for The Chicago Wizard World Convention.  That brings us to 2011, which was no exception.

comic con
(L to R) Nathan Contini, Nicholas J. Hearne and Jason Contini at Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2011

I flew into St. Louis two days before the show (I was living in Los Angeles at the time) and met up with Nick and Nathan and started packing the car.  Now, a few years prior, I had starred in a vampire film called SHADOWLAND that was made by Wyatt Weed, Gayle Gallagher and Bob Clark; The Pirate Pictures Team.  So they had asked us to take some promotional material and DVD’s of the movie with us to the convention.  As we were loading the car with SHADOWLAND goodies we began talking about films and what types of movies we all wanted to be a part of next.  We started talking about the difference between just being a director on a film and being a director AND a cinematographer at the same time.  Wyatt eventually explained that that is not something he personally would feel comfortable with on a big film.  He said he would much rather have a separate person handling the cinematography.  But on a smaller film?  Perhaps.  Then Wyatt said something that started this whole ball rolling.  He looked at me and said, “Like if you were to make a film, I could shoot it for you.  Or if we made a small film next that didn’t need any crazy chase scenes or fight choreography, I could both direct and shoot on something like that”. The wheels in my head immediately began to turn.

I started thinking of any and every idea I could.  Comedies, Dramas, Sci-fi films that have small casts and take place in one room, cabin in the woods style horror films….anything.  Finally I decided to take the age old “writer’s advice”: write what you know.  I thought, “well, I don’t really know enough about anything to write a full story around it.  Well, except for comic books.  That’s it!!  Comic books!!  I’ll write a script about comic books!”

shadowland
shadowlandSHADOWLAND – Written, Directed & Edited by Wyatt Weed

I immediately came up with an idea about three childhood friends who reconnect after years of being apart to create and self publish their own comic book.  It was what I knew.  It was about this time that I then talked to my father, John Contini, and told him about the conversation I had with Wyatt and that I was trying to put something together.  Before I could even tell him the idea I had come up with, he began to tell me about a one act play that he had always wanted to write about two people, an older gentleman and young man, who connect in a small city bar and discuss life and dreams and desires and regrets (there is much more to it than that but I can’t give away all the secrets yet.

You’ll just have to wait to see the movie to know more).

John Contini and Lear
John Contini / John as the title character in KING LEAR at St. Louis Actor’s Studio

It was at that moment that Dad and I took our two ideas and started to meld them together.  The convention having ended (successfully, I might add), I flew back to Los Angeles and he and I began having brain storming sessions via Skype a few times a month.  We put together a three page outline for the script and then dove into writing both a one page treatment as well as a fully detailed eight page treatment.  The three young kids became our three leads: Chris, Anne and Brian.  The older Gentleman became a bar owner, Rich, and role model figure for all three of our leads.  We gave the three thirty-something “kids” a reason to reconnect: an ailing mother, Carol, that needed looking after.  We made all three of our leads comic book collectors and writers and artists and had them all desire to have careers in the comic book industry.  And we added a funeral. And a eulogy.  It was then that we had our title: FOUR COLOR EULOGY.

Then I took the outline we had created and began the first draft.  That first draft was quite a bit different than what we’re working with now.  Dad and I went back and forth with notes and changes and thoughts and additions.  Eventually, after a year and a half, I had completed the second draft.  By this time I had both Nick and Wyatt read the script at various times during its process.  Both seemed to be getting more and more interested in it as it went along.

pirates
(L to R) Wyatt Weed, Bob Clark and Gayle Gallagher

That brings us to summer of 2013.  I needed a change in my life and had decided that I was going to leave Los Angeles, head back to the mid-west and make this movie (best decision I ever made, by the way). I handed the script over to Nick (a much better writer than me) to make more revisions and do the next draft and got in touch with the Pirate Pictures team.  Wyatt began doing his own revisions of the script and then passing them back to Nick and I.  We would then in turn pass our revisions back to him.  The script was solidifying. Before I knew it, Gayle and Bob were on board, Nick had rewritten the script again and vastly improved upon it and Wyatt seemingly jumped at the chance to be both Director and Cinematographer.  And we were on our way.

So the “secret origin” of this film really boils down to comic books and one act plays.  And a story about a hodge-podge family, told by a hodge-podge family of filmmakers and story tellers.  It has become a passion project for us all and has been an absolutely delightful experience so far.  And as a result, we have our next film: FOUR COLOR EULOGY.

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